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Gladys Knight, HBCU music, and students play major roles in NBA All-Star Sunday – The Undefeated

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be in the spotlight during NBA All-Star Weekend, with HBCU-inspired elements incorporated into shows and at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Students and alumni will be an integral part of the virtual fan experience, artwork, arena activations, merchandise, music, and other storytelling elements.

“With so many HBCU producing so many outstanding students and also by us talking about some of the famous alumni, whether it’s a celebrity or people doing fantastic things in their jobs, will be exposing them to people. to show that these schools produce high performing, quality individuals, ”said Carlton Myers, NBA vice president of live production and entertainment.

One of those famous alumni is seven-time Grammy Award-winning Gladys Knight, a graduate of Shaw University, one of the nation’s oldest HBCUs. She will perform the national anthem.

“There has never been a more meaningful or impactful time in our country to sing our national anthem and encourage unity. Being able to do it in my beloved hometown of Atlanta makes it even more special. I predict that I will be able to convey my overwhelming love for America by singing on Sunday and that everyone will be able to feel that love, ”Knight said.

“My time at an HBCU institution has been an important part of my growth as a woman and as a person. I felt welcomed, supported and encouraged during my stay and am grateful for this experience.

Alessia Cara, who in 2018 became the first Canadian artist to win the Grammy for Best New Artist, will perform the Canadian anthem in her first NBA All-Star Game.

The Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society Choir will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song co-created by Clark Atlanta alumnus James Weldon Johnson.

“It’s a major, major event. I am extremely proud to be a part of this event, but even beyond my satisfaction it is a wonderful opportunity for our students and they are extremely excited. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase Clark Atlanta University and the HBCUs in general, ”said Curtis Powell, choir musical director. “Having the opportunity to play ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ at an NBA All-Star game is something I never thought we would be able to do, but here we are in 2021.”

Additionally, groups Grambling State and Florida A&M will perform during NBA All-Star player presentations from their respective historic campuses.

Florida A&M Marching 100 has performed in New Years parades and venues across the country, but performing as part of the NBA All-Star Game is a first.

“It’s just a really exciting opportunity for us. This one is special because we know that music just helps to bring good joyful energy among our people and certainly with the 100 being a part of that we know that is huge for the branding of our university and huge for the Marching 100 because we’re always trying to get audiences excited, especially those who are planning to come to school here in the future, ”said Shelby Chipman, group director and music teacher at FAMU.

“All of these types of performances are just dynamic. And personally for me, you know it’s not all about me, but being the group manager is definitely an honor. To serve as the fourth director here at FAMU of the 100 accomplished march and knowing that to whom much is given, much is needed, so I always try to think of how we can continue to promote our principles of musicality in the walk and creativity that will keep the fanfare front and center. You know we are grateful and I am grateful for this opportunity to have and I know the entire Rattler Nation is extremely excited and happy for us.

For Grambling State World Famed Tiger Marching Band, it won’t be the first time he’s performed in an NBA All-Star Game. In 2010, his drumline “Chocolate Thunder” performed half-time with artist Shakira.

“Any performance of this magnitude is a great opportunity not only for the staff but also for the children who participate in the program. This allows them to get the exposure they need to be able to perform on the national stage and that’s always a good thing when it comes to performances like this, ”said Nikole Roebuck, Group Director and President of the Group. music department. “It keeps the program in the spotlight and it’s always exciting when we get a call like this.”

On Sunday, 300 frontline workers and students from HBCU were invited to attend the All-Star Game virtually through the virtual fan experience. In partnership with Anheuser-Busch and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, who together have contributed over $ 5 million to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to support educational programs and scholarships for students attending HBCUs, the Michelob Experience ULTRA Courtside will offer fans the ability to virtually interact with each other and access special reaction graphics that will be visible on their screens to those inside State Farm Arena.

Other important HBCU and raw connections for the game:

  • HBCU Officials Team: Norfolk State graduate Tom Washington in his 30th season will call his third All-Star Game; Southern graduate Courtney Kirkland in his 21st season and Clark Atlanta graduate Tony Brown in his 19th season are making their second All-Star appearances.
  • The jerseys worn by the players will feature badges celebrating the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and UNCF. Both organizations are among the recipients of the NBA All-Star 2021. UNCF is a strategic partner in the Jordan Wings program and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a recipient of a Nike grant that supports scholarships at HBCUs.
  • The playground design for NBA All-Star 2021 was created in collaboration with HBCU alumni and incorporates icons representing the best of academics, music and campus life at HBCU.

Ashton Edmunds, a senior media arts graduate from Tallahassee, Fla., Is the sports editor of The CAU Panther newspaper, an intern for The Atlanta Voice News Network, and also an inaugural Turner Diversity Fellow at WarnerMedia.

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